Card catalog

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Yale card catalog.jpg
Keyword catalog.jpg
Notes from the card catalog of the Graz University Library, sorted by subject headings

A card catalog (or card catalog ) is a library catalog that consists of many catalog cards (or cards), with exactly one of the publications available in the respective library being listed on each card and each publication containing at least one card. The notes are usually stored in specially made catalog boxes in alphabetical order. The card catalog, superseded by the electronic library catalog in use today, is still in use in isolated libraries.

As a rule, the libraries kept several card catalogs side by side, which were sorted according to various criteria (author name, catchphrase, title of the publication).

The decisive advantage over the tape catalog is that another piece of paper still fits between two pieces of paper (one entry only fits between two entries in a tape catalog as long as there is still a writable space). The card catalog can therefore be expanded indefinitely. There are card catalogs with loose sheets of paper, where the library user or librarian can take the found paper out of the drawer. In the other case, the notes are perforated and fixed in the catalog box using a perforated bar. The notes are not freely removable, which is to ensure the orderly order. Colored cardboard guide cards can make the order principle of the respective catalog visible.

The slips of paper, which were initially made by hand or with a typewriter , have been replaced by printed slip cards since the introduction of electronic data processing . After a publication was included in the electronic catalog, any number of slips of the publication could be printed out for the various slip catalogs of the library. The card catalog is now only in function in libraries that have not yet recorded their old holdings in any other way. A disadvantage of the card catalog compared to the OPAC is that the production, classification and sorting of the card catalog is associated with a considerable amount of work. Card catalogs are also location-specific and often require a lot of space. The content of most card catalogs has therefore now been digitized by means of retro-conversion and transferred to OPACs by means of retro- cataloging .

The catalog cards and catalog cabinets

The catalog cards (or slips of paper) were made of strong paper or cardboard . Since 1948 - according to the international library format - the size of the individual notes has usually been exactly 7.5 cm x 12.5 cm.

The catalog cabinets are usually 6 mx 6 m in size and have drawers with a capacity of 1000 to 1200 catalog cards each.


Web links

Commons : Card catalogs  - collection of images, videos and audio files